Texas-native Rob Snow was dismayed by the lack of quality dining options in Round Rock, where he and his family lived, where most restaurants were chains. That frustration lead him to start Greenhouse Craft Foods a year ago, the local-focused restaurant as an antidote to those fast food joints. Snow spoke to Eater about working in the suburbs, the perks of not having a restaurant in Travis County, and Round Rock’s support of local restaurants.
What made you start Greenhouse Craft Food?
l live in Round Rock, and we were always looking for a place to go with the family. We don’t really frequent the chain restaurants and that was about all that we had to choose from. So I was like, "Well, if we need it up here and I would much rather not drive to Austin every day. Why don’t I open my own place?" I saw a need and thought I could help fill it.
What made you pick Round Rock?
A lot of people like to live in the suburbs, because the schools are good, and there’s a lot of things for families, but they don’t really want to give up the advantages of living in the city, like cool places to go eat, or cool bars and music venues. But there just aren’t things like that in the suburbs. We thought that putting more of an Austin-style restaurant in the suburbs is what people would want.
How is it being an independent business up in Round Rock?
It’s easy to get things going, to get questions answered. We’ve all heard the nightmares of being in Travis County and the growth there and how long it takes to get something done. I’m just happy to not have to deal with that part of it.
How is the Round Rock business community?
Everyone is very supportive of local businesses here when they have something local to support. There’s not a ton of local places, but when you do take that chance and open in the suburbs, people are very appreciative of it. They really want want to support the local businesses.
What’s been the most challenging aspect of opening?
Staffing is hard in the suburbs. If you want really good trained people, they want to go work in Austin. So that’s a big challenge.
What about the most surprising aspect?
Probably the support. Everyone wants to thank you for bringing this type of thing to Round Rock, and a lot more people actually voiced that than I expected.
How was your role changed from the beginning?
Oh, a ton. I started out cooking probably 50-60 hours a week, and then doing the owner stuff on the side for ten hours. Now it’s the opposite. I’ve got a lot more owner stuff to do, and a lot more running errands for everybody.
How is it balancing the two restaurants?
They’re both about a mile and a half from my house, so it gives me a chance to be at both of them every day. My partner at Scarlet Rabbit does a lot of the ownership stuff there, and I come in, help cook, and run errands over there. The balance has been really good. I have a really strong chef de cuisine at Greenhouse and that's something that we didn’t have originally.
What’s been the strangest moment from the past year?
Probably the day that I figured out I hadn’t gotten the mail in two weeks. I had a bill in there from the gas company, and [they] came in and turned my gas off. I couldn’t get it turned back on until eight hours later, so it ruined the day. Luckily, it was on a Monday so it wasn’t a horrible thing. It was totally 100 percent my fault. I had forgotten to pay the bill just because i forgot to get the mail.
How do you see Greenhouse Craft Foods fitting into the Round Rock and Texas food scenes?
It’s a really cool thing for the farmers, ranchers and local food artisans, where they can point people to a restaurant that uses their product. It’s really cool that we can support that end of it. That’s something in the future that will be more important. If we decide to do another Greenhouse, there’s a whole other group of farms and artisans that we can support.
Where do you want Greenhouse Craft Foods to be a year from now?
There’s probably room for another concept in a different location, either in the south side of Austin or in a suburb of one of the other cities in Texas. Maybe Dripping Springs or Buda or Kyle or something like that. I think by a year from now, we would like to be able to do that.